Beyond the Buff Jesus: Love your neighbor

What is the greatest commandment? According to Luke 10:26, it is this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Love the Lord, but also love your neighbor. So that begs the question, what does loving your neighbor look like?

I know that I am not the only person thrilled that the elections are finally over. Elections are exhausting, even for those not involved directly with campaigns. You cannot turn the television on without being faced with advertisements tearing down other people, cannot drive down the street without seeing signs in so many lawns and can hardly remember the times before simple conversations turned political.

There is no shame in being a part of elections, in fact it is the only way to bring about lasting change. The Vote No on One campaign drew me in, and I enjoyed planning events that raised awareness and sought conversations about the issue. For me, it was a no brainer. How could anyone possibly believe that women are unable to make the decisions that are best for their families and themselves?

I knew that there would be dissonance on campus. A beautiful thing about living in a community with those who are not the same as you is that there are many viewpoints represented.
I was not surprised the day that I found chalk art showing the statistics of fetal development throughout pregnancy. Was I saddened by what felt like shaming toward those for whom an abortion would be the best, or perhaps only, option? Yes. Surprised? No. I was a little surprised, and again saddened, when Women’s Week 2014 flyers were found on the ground, having been torn down due to disagreement with events listed. But I think that above all, I was saddened when the people of Tennessee voted to pass Amendment One.

Do I support abortion? No. I think, probably as many of you do, that abortion is a shame. I so wish that we lived in a time and place where women did not feel that abortion was their only option, but being pro-choice is not the same thing as being pro-life. And from what I have seen, being pro-life is not about being pro-life.

From what I have seen, especially lately, is that being pro-life is actually being pro-birth. We will take away your right to an abortion because we want to save your baby, but we do not want to provide healthcare for him or her. We do not want to send her to good schools or make sure that he has enough to eat. There is quite a difference in pro-life and pro-birth. If the categories for the two looked like what I just described, I would be considered pro-life.

But the categories do not look like that. So instead, we are living in a world where for some women, abortion is their only option. This brings me back to where I started. What does loving your neighbor look like? Does it look like shaming her because of a choice that she made? Does it look like not providing health insurance or caring about food insecurity in homes with children?

Jesus said to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus did not say to love only the neighbors who have the same political opinion as you. Jesus did not say to love only those who have a jobs that pay them well enough to feed their families. Jesus did not discriminate between who to love, because everyone is our neighbor.

Loving your neighbor means taking care of those who need taking care of. It means protecting the innocent, feeding the hungry, helping the poor. Loving your neighbor means not turning your back on those with whom you disagree. Love your neighbor, even though it is a hard thing to do. Love your neighbor, and do it because Jesus commanded it. Then and only then will you be living the life that He has intended for you.

One thought on “Beyond the Buff Jesus: Love your neighbor

  • November 12, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I have two friends who have had to have the D&C procedure (aka abortion). BOTH of them desperately wanted their babies. Both of them had miscarriages. Both were in extreme pain after the miscarriage, and needed the procedure. One was forced to stay in the delivery ward afterwards – where she heard fetal monitors and babies crying all night.

    My heart was so broken for both of them, and I fear that this amendment would keep them from getting a medical procedure that helped them to heal more quickly -both physically and emotionally.

    No one wakes up and says, “It’s Tuesday – I think I will get an abortion!” I doubt people take these decisions lightly. Like going to war, our world is confronted with choices that seem evil that sometimes we can’t avoid. Soldiers that have died – on our side and theirs – are peoples babies, too. The world is fallen.

    I know some people who probably worked on that sidewalk chalk, and they have good hearts. If we can find common ground, we may be able to actually make progress. The Pro-Life and Pro-Birth folks can agree that we need fewer unplanned babies. We wouldn’t need abortions if people could keep from getting pregnant in the first place. If we all focus our efforts there, on educating people on avoiding unwanted pregnancy, everyone wins.

    Thanks SDJ – I’ll get off my soap box now. 🙂


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